New South Wales is considering the possibility of installing baby hatches following the discovery of two abandoned babies in the space of one week.
The body of a baby girl was found buried beneath 30 centimetres of sand by two young boys at Maroubra Beach on Sunday morning. It was in such a decomposed state that autopsy results could not identify the age of the baby or the cause of death.
This grim finding comes only one week after the discovery of a baby boy by cyclists along the M7 at Quakers Hill in Sydney. In this case the baby survived in a drain for five days, and the mother has since been found and charged with attempted murder.
Both cases saw a large public outcry and prompted the NSW Government to consider several response options, including the installing of baby hatches.
Baby hatches are essentially places where people can bring babies, typically newborn, and leave them anonymously in the care of others. Some countries, such as China, Austria and Germany already use baby hatches.
Read more at ABC.
The abandonment of two helpless babies has shaken a community and sparked a national public outcry. These are a shocking and saddening series of events, and both the abandoned babies and the mothers who felt desperate enough to commit the atrocious acts, should be pitied.
That a parent would abandon their baby, alive or dead, and dispose of the body in a secret place is surely a horrendous and terrifying act. And to any of us who cannot fathom doing so ourselves, the act is monstrous.
I don’t generally believe those who commit vile and hateful crimes should be treated with leniency. A person who commits grievous harm against another should be punished accordingly, and yet, in these two instances I feel sad that the mothers (and fathers) of these babies felt driven to act this way.
Abandoned babies in Australia are not very common, but there’s no doubt that when it happens, it is a grave and problematic issue. Two abandoned babies are two too many, and so we need to implement a strategy to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Since baby abandonment is illegal, with parents liable for prosecution, baby hatches provide a practical and safe way for struggling parents to give up their child, with the knowledge that it will be cared for and that they will not be charged with any criminal activity.
Of course, the very best solution to this issue begins with prevention. Perhaps we as a nation need to provide access to more adequate contraception, or education on the realities of parenting, pregnancy and childbirth. One way or the other, the thing that is most clear to me about this issue is that our nation needs to focus on the emotional and psychological wellbeing of its people. We need better and more comprehensive mental health initiatives, which can be widely and freely accessible.
Healthy, happy people do not abandon babies in drains or bury them in the sand. If those mothers (and fathers) had access to supportive, encouraging services perhaps they would not have felt compelled to do what they did.
What do you think? Should these mothers be pitied or punished? Would baby hatches help the issue or simply lead to an increase in the number of abandoned babies?
Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free
- Receive our daily enewsletter
- Enter competitions
- Comment on articles